Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ken Ludwig's Baskerville (at Arena Stage) Review - 3½ Stars

Basil Rathbone meets “Young Frankenstein” in Ken Ludwig’s hilarious riff on the Sherlock Holmes adventure “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” Four talented actors and one exhausted actress present 40+ characters during this evening of outrageous quick changes, bad puns, and stage magic. The entire show winks at us, reminding us to enjoy ourselves, laugh, and appreciate the delights of live theater. Props emerge from under the stage, fall from the rafters, get thrown from the wings. The exhausted actress I mentioned is Jane Pfitsch, who manages to play a blonde damsel in distress, an elderly landlady, a young Baker Street irregular and sorted (and assorted) others.The “Baskerville” standout award goes to Michael Glenn - looking like Gene Autry’s sidekick Smiley Burnett, a Texas rancher who inherits the haunted Baskerville Hall - plus whomever else, Ludwig demands. He even manages a Scotland Hall inspector and the Texas rancher simultaneously just by changing hats.  I especially liked him during the show’s first minutes, when he looked up and smiled as Sherlock’s scullery maid, scrubbing the floor while admiring Sherlock’s mastery. Lucas Hall makes a fine Doctor Watson; Gregory Wooddell a wonderful Sherlock, plus Stanley Bahorek and Milo Tindale rise to their many occasions to amaze and entertain us. What a thrill to watch these five talented players come out as a team to the final curtain cheers. What a wonderful night of theater fun. “Baskerville” reminds me of what I love about live theater. See it at Arena Stage through February 22nd - Tickets $45 to $110.